Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Picture of the Day

Adrienne and I helped our big brother make Harbichuelas con Dulce. It was so sweet and yummy especially cold. It translates something like Beans with Sweet.

And also, we went exploring and found an awesome waterfall.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A rant on best days

Write about the best day of your life. Ready, go. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told by a teacher to do that exact thing. Now, it has even happened in Spanish class. Write about the best day. I think that direction is near to impossible. I have no way of knowing if I have experienced the best day of my life already or if it is still to come. How is one to know the best day of their life? Personally, I think there are many best days in a person’s life – not just one. When you ask a person what their favorite color is or what is their favorite movie, I have hardly ever been given only one answer. I think that is the way of everything.

Best days are days that are indelibly marked in your memory as particularly good. They shine like bright stars in the night sky. Those are the days that you wish to engrave in stone and display in your hall of memory. When you are within those days, you find that you wish to live in that moment forever.

A best day is not defined the same way for every person either. A particularly wonderful day for one person might be a day of absolutely nothing. On the other hand, a fantastic day for another person might be a day so packed full of different activities that at the end of the day one just falls into bed. Days are defined by the people that live them.

I can tell you what my best day should have, but will I ever live that day? I can never know. My best day would have music, sunshine, wind, and laughter. Encompassed in that day would be almost perfect companionship between my guy friends and girl friends. On this day, I would almost be able to feel wings sprout from my back. To the world, I would shout, “Why are you walking when you could be flying?”

A best day – really, what is a ‘best’ day? A best day can be found in a hot mug of chai tea or in the sunshine that splatters little rainbows all over the kitchen sink. A best day might be in the reaching of a goal or the beginning of a journey of learning. After all, a best day is all a matter of perspective. You and I might have experienced the same day side by side. Yet, I might walk away believing it to be my best day meanwhile you might have thought it as a particularly low day. Hence, a best day is a simply a matter of opinion.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Picture Perfect or Not So

This mountain view is the first good view that we all got. We befriended the boy on the end of the picture and he showed us that view.

Adrienne and I with a couple of kids that are always running through our household and who love to try to learn English from us.

This is the inside of the church.

This would be the outside of the church. It's connected to our house believe it or not.

This is a suspension bridge that we had to cross over with our family to get to the lower Salto Jimenoa (a waterfall).

This is our room. That weird lime green thing on the lower part of this picture is one of our amazing mosquitoe nets which is a must yet doesn't seem to work very well at all!


Diversity. People stress the need for diversity in schools, in towns, and in almost every walk of life. People want to be culturally sensitive. Yet, diversity extends even more than we originally believe. Within every culture, there are sub-cultures. Within every religion, there are sub cultures. I have found this to be true while staying in the Dominican Republic. I have the opportunity to attend church four nights out of the week with my family. My family is Pentecostal Christian.

Most of my childhood was spent in Baptist church, skirts and dresses were almost mandatory for women and girls. Everything was very structured and traditional. Every week, everything was exactly the same. Generally, one attended church twice a week. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a Baptist church. Yet, all of those things that I grew up with have become a truth or a norm in my life. I had not even realized it.

Attending a Pentecostal church that is all in Spanish has been like jumping from the warm beach into a tank full of almost frozen water. It has been a wake up experience. The church is so full of movement that one could possibly become sea sick. Not one person within the church can sing on pitch. Imagine my horror! The speakers boomed. People scream into the microphones in Spanish. It felt like a nightmare. Then, it became even worse because people seemed to lose control of their bodies and sporadically dance. As quickly as their jerky movement began, suddenly they would become a straight as a board and then fall to the ground. Other people scurried to cushion their fall. With all this motion about me, I struggled to find where God was in this church.

My first experience in a Pentecostal church was obviously not the best experience. It did not help the fact that I had no idea what was going on because I could not get past the language barrier. Of course, with time, I have changed my expectations for church and the sporadic dancing does not bother me quite as much anymore. I also have become okay with the idea that there are different cultures within the Christian religion. That is perfectly okay. Of course, I’ll probably still keep to the side line of things.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Flight Mode

For some reason, when I came to the Dominican Republic, I lived in the illusion that things would be challenging yet simple. I expected to be challenged but not really. Is that possible? Oh, yes. It definitely is. I believed that it was going to be simply a breeze. I would soak in the culture as one soaks in the sun without getting burnt. I would learn Spanish like I had been born with the ability to speak. Things would be like a dream. Can I have a ‘dun dun dunnnn’?

And then, the honeymoon was over. The fun and exploration was over. Paradise receded and normality came rushing forth. Suddenly, I’m realizing that I’m living in a different country for three and a half months. Reality ruins my life as Calvin states clearly in Calvin and Hobbes. Usually, I get burned when I go sunning. It’s true in this case, too. I have always wanted to travel desperately so I thought thinks would go like a dream. Silly me. I should have known better.

Have you ever felt a desperation combined with confusion? Not a good mixture at all. This past Spanish class, I almost jumped out of my skin – screamed, cried, and just broke down. Of course, this was contained by my skin and I wonder if anyone could see that I was hanging on by barely a thread. What happened? I thought this was supposed to be all fun and flowers! What happened? I’m left with rain.

Apparently, I have reached the stage of flight. They are right. If I had my chance, I would walk for miles and never return. If I could sprout wings and fly, I would fly up and up and never return. So you had better grab onto my ankles because I’m about float away.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Wishlist of Impossibilities

The things that I wish that I had brought to the Dominican Republic with me.

1. A fly swatter

- Simply because there is no end to the flies. They are like an ever-present black cloud that hangs over and on your food.

2. Colorful bead bracelets

- Gift giving is all the rage here and a bracelet brought from the States and given by an Americana would be like gold.

3. Peliculas (aka Movies)

- My Dominican Republic family watches a lot of television and would probably love to see my movies (Peliculas). Also, it would be nice to have an American moment movie.

4. Cute Clothing

- Everyone dresses nice and there I am in my cut-offs and t-shirt. Awesome.

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

- So the water has bacteria in it so I try to clean my “boo boo” with soap and water and it gets mildly infected. Good, right?

6. Aloe Vera

- No one gets burnt here. Only the gringos. Another ‘awesome’ moment.

7. My own Personal Translator

- Oh, wait. That defeats the purpose of trying to learn another language.

8. Hot Water

- Bucket baths with cold water gets old quickly.

9. Thousands of Chicken Muzzles

- Every try to sleep while the confused chickens ‘cockle doodle doodle’ at random points throughout the night. I’m pretty sure that the Dominican Republic is populated by a very confused bunch of chickens.

10. An extendable arm w/ boxing glove

- For all those men who drive by and slow down to stare longer. For all those men that find wicked joy in driving their motorcycle as close to a walking girl as possible and then continuing to drive by while watching you over their shoulder.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Random Tidbits

A list of random things that one either sees, is told, or hears about the Dominican Republic.

1. Don't fall in love with a Dominican Republic man. He's suave and he's after your heart for a ticket to the US of A.

2. The green lizards are equivalent to the squirrels that inhabit any city or town in the US.

3. "Psssssst Pssssst." is not a good thing. Ignore any person that should make that noise at you.

4. Motorcycles are the vehicle of choice. "Do not ride them. They are very dangerous."

5. Music is always loud so that the Dominican's can share their music with everyone.

6. The mini highway of insects traveling by your bed is probably not a good thing, but as long as they stay on their highway. All is well. (They probably snacking on something nearby. Don't think about that too long.)

7. Everyone wants to help an American. American females steer clear of the DR males who leer at you. Do as one of the girls did while in town when a DR man said, "What is your name?" She responded, "I have no name." This sounds rude. Yet sometimes, it is important to draw the line. A moment before, he had been seriously checking her out.

And so begins my list of interesting tidbits of the Dominican Republic. I'm sure there will be more to come. Also, I'm sorry that my blog has been so full of DR things. I believe that will continue to be the case for the next couple of months.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I lohve you

During the siesta hour, a group of gringos ventured out of the Students International compound. We wandered through town because we knew that most of the Dominicans would be taking a rest from noon until two. Our flip flops slapped the pavement as we quietly trooped down the street. Motorcycles whirred by us accompanied by beeping and whistles. We passed houses with people reclining on the porches in the shade. Chickens crossed the street. Trucks growled by us. The new noises and new sights overwhelmed us.

After only fifteen minutes, the majority of our group turned back. Yet, I was determined to explore. I had this feeling that something spectacular was waiting if we only persevered. We turned up a street that split of the main road and began to follow it. Suddenly, I became aware that there was a male Dominican following us. My observations of the male population had not been too positive so far. Most of them cat called at us and claimed to “lohve” us. As we walked, I became like a winding spring getting tighter and tighter with nervousness. The day was fair, though, and we had four girls to his one-ness. As I walked I noticed a tree that had fruit hanging off it, I became curious as to what fruit it was. When I conferred with my fellow gringas, I found that they did not know the fruit so I turned to our very own stalker and asked, “Que tipo de fruta?”

After he responded with “si,” I lost the rest of his response because I was unfamiliar with the type of fruit. Yet, it turned out that he was just a school boy. The other girls began to chat with him and he eventually offered to show us to the top of a hill/mountain. He was a great tour guide and the cat calls that we had been getting changed. The calls began to be directed towards him usually meaning “save one of them for me.” When we finally reached the top of the hill, we were blown away by the beauty. It seemed as though we looked down on paradise. We stood against a barbed-wire fence and peered into a world so very different than our own.

Tonight, I leave you with one thought…. “I lohve you. I lohve you, Americana!” Whatever you do, don't respond.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Estoy Aqui

The rain thunders on the tin roof that protects my cabin full of girls from the elements. I feel as though I am encompassed in a waterfall. The might of the rain is thrilling. It drones on and on. Yet, I don’t tire of it. Here I sit in another country completely where cockroaches run free and lizards sleep with you. Even though so intensely out of my comfort zone, the roar of the rain comforts me. It reminds me that things will be both different and familiar here in the Dominican Republic.

The plane rides were uneventful. I was tense with both excitement and fear. The second flight was much more interesting because I sat by a flower of the Dominican Republic. She had just spent two and a half weeks in Miami. It was interesting to listen to her talk because it seemed that Miami was like a country of its own to her. After a while, I asked if I could try to speak Spanish with her. I didn’t quite horrible, but it was good to practice and stretch myself in that way.

Some Dominican Republic returner brought a Mickey Mouse balloon on the plane. I noticed it. I thought it was strange that someone would bring such a carry on. About twenty minutes into the flight, the balloon made its presence known by exploding. The explosion or loud pop caused momentary confusion and a bit of a panic. Of course, all was well and people soon settled into sleep. Meanwhile, I was stumbling around in my horrid Spanish. Yet, I was determined to be bold and seize the day.

Here I sit in another country. The rain comforts. The unknown beckons. Some days I am ready for adventure. Most days, I am not. Today I am ready.

Can we have a collective scream of terror and excitement please?

So this post will probably be very disappointing to most of you because it is not very literarily correct. Who cares. In about 6 hours, my journey begins and I'm freaked out. Yes, I thought you would want to know. This might not seem mightily important to you. Yet, for me, it's vital and pivotal moment in my own life. I'm freaked. I am going to the Republicana Dominicana. Me.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Time is an interesting concept. How is it that time races for adults but for children time slows? Why is it that a fly’s life might only be a couple of days meanwhile a turtle might live one hundred years? Time cannot help but interest me. We Americans are obsessed with time. We always want to be on time for things and are very much ruled by time. On the other hand, other cultures seem to be unaware that time exists at all. How can there be so many different perspectives on time? It never fails to blow my mind.

There are moments when I stand still and watch people race by me. I wonder where they are going and what they are doing. It amazes me to think that for a moment my path crossed with another person. Perhaps, I will never see them again and soon after I will forget that we bumped into each other at the store or whatever location. Yet, for that moment, are pathways crossed. I wonder about how it would look if I could keep track of each person I came in contact with briefly and longer than briefly. How interesting it would be to know so many different types of lives and friends!

In only a matter of couple hours (being about a day and a half), I will be on a jet plane to the Dominican Republic. How do I feel about that? Good question. I would like to know so when you find out tell me. I am certain that I am way in over my head. Time is the only thing that stands between me and my plane flight. That barrier is not very big at all. Thankfully, I do not need to depend solely on myself. God’s got me. I am deeply thankful that I do not need to depend on myself because I will fail completely. Therefore, even though I am very unsure of coming circumstances I do know that God has got me. And Thank God FOR THAT!!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009


The starlight twinkles in the sky. And I sit alone. Although surrounded by much, I am all alone. A beetle scuttles across the sidewalk and suddenly I become like a cat. I leap across the pavement and my hands rush out and capture the beetle. I bat it and then stick it in my mouth. Its feet scramble against my tongue. Suddenly, I become aware of myself again. I realize that I have put a bug in my mouth. I spit it out and it lies prone in a puddle of my saliva. What was I doing?

I return to my spot on the bench and listen. My ears fill with the words and stories of others. I shudder in the cold and pull my hood over my head. The stories drag at me. I stare up at the artwork of a gigantic spider in the rafters. I am captivated by the simplicity of the design and yet the complexity. Quickly, like a monkey, I scramble up to the spider web. I stare at it entranced. I poke the web and watch the spider dance away from me. I hang upside down from the rafters staring down at all of those gathered around below. Their words hold meaning yet I struggle to know what to do with those words. Each word is like a bullet into my very being. They rip me a part. Why am I here?

Again, I return to my place among the group. I shiver with cold with everyone else. My feet are so cold that I no longer feel them. Stories still swirl around me. While others find freedom, I struggle. My eyes catch sight of a millipede. Its legs carry it rapidly across the cement. My imagination places me as one of its feet. Like a team we feet pull the millipede across the pavement. Abruptly, a swift foot comes slamming down. The world goes black. I am smashed with the millipede. I am beyond repair. Once again, I feel the cold and hear the words of those around me. Yet, I am dead. How does this happen?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mr. Pipe Man

There is a man. I pass him every day as I drive to or from home. He sits in front of his house on the same bench in the same posture at the same time every day. His sole companions are his wooden pipe and his dog that seems to be part wolf. His pepper and salt hair is trimmed comfortably and his mustache sits upon his upper lip regally.

I have come to believe that without this man sitting upon his bench with his pipe and his dog the world would cease to go around. I imagine that I know him. Instead of rushing on by on errand, I fancy that I will pull into his driveway and ramble up his sidewalk. His dog will barely deem me worth acknowledgment while the man puffs on his pipe. And I will walk right up to the man and say, “Hello, Mr. Pipe Man, how are you on this fine day? May I join you on your bench and watch the world go by?” Mr. Pipe Man will sagely nod his head and down I will plop beside him.

The cars will roll by us. People walking their dogs and teenagers texting will wander by our place. And the pipe will puff and I will watch the world go by me, the man, and his dog. To myself, I will wonder of the thoughts of Mr. Pipe Man. Yet, conversation will not flow between us because we are comfortable in long stretching silence. While I become distracted by the turquoise blue sky and the wispy clouds, Mr. Pipe Man must be musing on the goings and comings of our neighbors. I wonder what he sees that the rest of us do not take time to see.

The scent of summer flowers mixed with the chill wind of fall will dance with our senses. The wolf-dog will lie contentedly at our feet and the man will be wrapped in a cloud of pipe smoke while I am wrapped in a cozy blanket. As the leaves change, time will stand still for us as the world passes us by. My car will stand still in the Pipe Man’s driveway quickly becoming friends with the leaves. Yet, the road will still be busy and constantly filled with people. People rushing through their lives. The colors of the leaves will entrance me while the Pipe man stares thoughtfully into the distance. I wonder if he is secretly laughing at how we all rush throughout our days barely taking time to breathe let alone live.

As we sit on the bench with the floral patterned cushions, the trees will lose their vibrancy of color. People will become strangely deformed oversized marshmallows and the man with the pipe will finally leave his bench for the warmth of his house that has stood a silent watcher behind his bench all this time. His dog will drag its body off the ground and plod to the warmth of the house. Mr. Pipe Man will have left me on the bench by myself without a look back. Yet, I will have no hard feelings. Instead, I will dig my keys out from deep within the pocket of my summer shorts. Quickly, I will fold up my cozy blanket and hurry to the car in my flip flops. As I huddle in the car, I will wonder what Mr. Pipe Man has been thinking of all summer and fall long.

I will pull out of Mr. Pipe Man’s driveway and head home. I feel like I know Mr. Pipe Man. I know where he lives and I know where he sits. I know Mr. Pipe Man’s dog and I know his pipe. For whom would he be without the companionship of his pipe? It is an extension of him. Then as I guide the car into my driveway suddenly I will realize that it is still a summer afternoon. The green is still lush and the Pipe man still puffs on his pipe.

p.s. photo the compliments of flickr and Edgar Barany